Brianne Kimmel, '11

Profile: Alumna Advises Silicon Valley Start-ups

Kent State alumna Brianne Kimmel, ’11, has successfully blended creative and analytical ways of thinking throughout her career. She majored in advertising as an undergraduate and successfully navigated a transition from marketing to more technical roles. She is currently an early stage start-up investor and advisor in Silicon Valley.

“People will oftentimes say you’re either creative or analytical, but it turns out in tech you need to be both,” she said. “I remember passing notes in math class and skipping my computer science class at Kent State. Now, most of my day is spent planning, forecasting and running database queries.”

After spending a few years working abroad in Australia, Kimmel moved to the San Francisco Bay area and worked at Expedia and Zendesk (a customer support software company that serves startups like Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox). At Zendesk, she focused on the Zendesk for Startups program, to help startup companies build better relationships with their customers.

“A huge part of (my) role is building relationships with startup incubators around the world such as Y Combinator in Silicon Valley, Station F in Paris and Akron Global Business Accelerator,” Kimmel said. “I work closely with our most successful startups ... to share their success stories with new, high-growth startups.”

In 2018, Business Insider named Kimmel a top angel investor every start-up should know.

“The best advice I can give to any recent grad is (to) move to the biggest city you can handle,” Kimmel said. “When you’re early in your career, it’s important to be surrounded by people who challenge your thinking.”

Living and working in Silicon Valley, she said her career and personal life often overlap, and she has built a strong network of like-minded friends and colleagues.

“As you become more specialized in your field, your circle gets smaller and more tight-knit,” she said. “If I’m thinking through a complex problem at work, I have a network of people at other companies who are willing to share insights and brainstorm solutions.”

(Adapted from a previously published article, based on an interview in 2017.)

POSTED: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 12:26pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 2:56pm
Erica Batyko, '16, M.A. '18